On Friday, President Trump gave a speech to law enforcement at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, New York, in hopes of encouraging police to stop recent violence that has been linked to the MS-13 gang.
According to CNN, Trump praised the force used by immigration officers, saying, "When you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see them thrown in, rough, I said, 'Please don't be too nice. Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you're protecting their head - you know, the way you put their hand over - like, 'Don't hit their head' and they've just killed somebody. 'Don't hit their head.' I said, 'You can take the hand away, okay?'"
While there was some applause after Trump’s remarks, many police chiefs and departments across the nation were quick to denounce Trump’s comments, especially after such tense national discussions and debates about the use of force by police in their communities.
The police department of Suffolk County—where Trump gave his speech—condemned Trump’s comments, tweeting, “As a department, we do not and will not tolerate roughing up prisoners,” BuzzFeed News reports.
Trump’s comments also evoked horrific memories in Baltimore of Freddie Gray’s death in 2015 when he suffered a fatal spinal injury while in police custody, BuzzFeed reports. Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis took to Twitter to criticize Trump’s remarks, saying, “Using force and handling people in custody require sound policies, sophisticated training and respect for human dignity.”
According to CNN, the Boston Police Department said its “priority has been and continues to be building relationships and trust with the community we serve. As a police department we are committed to helping people, not harming them.”
However, there were some law enforcement groups that were not as critical of Trump’s comments, BuzzFeed reports. Chuck Canterburry, union president of the Fraternal Order of Police told BuzzFeed News, "The President's off the cuff comments on policing are sometimes taken all too literally by the media and professional police critics. The President knows, just as every cop out there knows, that our society does not, and should not, tolerate the mistreatment or prejudgment of an individual at any point in the criminal justice process.”
The organization Blue Lives Matter, which supports police officers, wrote on its website, “‘Do these people actually realize that this was a joke and not a policy change? It seems not.’”
It appears, however, that overwhelmingly police departments across the nation won’t adhere to Trump’s request. And since many police departments have worked hard to remedy conflicts between their departments and the communities they serve, they may not want to jeopardize the progress they have made.